Out with a Bang!


Join Patrick Chapin and Michael J. Flores on a Magical review of 2016.

You know if you follow us on Instagram that Eldrazi Aggro is our deck of the year…

Deck of the year! Creature of the year! Planeswalker of the year! Even… Patron of the year? Get ready! New episode TONIGHT

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… But what about other categories?

Can Michael dislodge Patrick’s call for creature of the year?

How about Planeswalker, Artifact, or Sorcery?

In addition to their calls for the year’s best decks, cards, and even players this podcast is a rare master class in deck game design and game theory.

For instance, why is Yawgmoth’s Will an interesting card in Napster but not an interesting card in Vintage? Or, why was Cascade interesting in Standard but generally combo-abusive as an end point in larger formats?

Or, why should R&D explore more “Eldrazi Temple”-type cards even as it is forced to ban the “Eye of Ugin” style?

One way to find out:

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How Do You Get to be the Best in the World?

Best in the World
How do you get to be the best in the world?

Happy Thanksgiving from Top Level Podcast!

In this very different episode Michael and Patrick trade a combination of old (even apocryphal) stories that have shaped their perspectives as players and thinkers.

You know, like…

  • There exists a noteworthy playtest technique that Mike once swore by. It isn’t for everyone… But it was — at least in the story that converted Mike — used by the best player in the world at the time.
  • Sometimes you have a 10% Game One matchup. Consequently you have to jam 8/15 sideboard cards in for a common opponent. Knowing this, just how often do you have to win to make up for that bad Game One?
  • In smaller formats you can sometimes make your main good against Rock and Paper, and use your sideboard to shore up Scissors. We discuss a variety of of sideboard strategies from historical, successful, decks.
  • Say I told you Canopy Spider is better than Bottle Gnomes against Jackal Pup… Could you tell me why?
  • Esper Charm is super flexible. One mode allows you to destroy an enchantment. Why might you ignore that “Get Out of Jail Free” card against onetime boogeyman Bitterblossom? Hint: It wasn’t all that free.
  • How to react when the opponent Disenchants your Necropotence
  • Dark Confidant. Bob. The Great One. Almost universally acknowledged as one of the best two drops of all time. But Mike tends to let Bob live. We discuss different ways to approach removing a Dark Confidant. Patrick has a wonderful, if non-intuitive, strategy around hand destruction when playing against Bob.
  • “I have made a terrible mistake.” Mis-judging the opponent’s archetype based on which lands they play can be a killer. Mike and Patrick share sad and happy war stories, respectively.
  • Can you beat a guy with seven Counterspells in his hand?

Time to Level Up!

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Episode 22 – Fun With Polluted Delta

Polluted Delta
Polluted Delta Control decks were some of the most successful decks of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir

In our 22d episode, “Fun With Polluted Delta” Pro Tour Champion Patrick Chapin and Resident Genius Michael J Flores discuss three-and-a-half takes on Standard control.

Adrian Sullivan played a “pure” Dimir Control deck with only Planeswalkers to win.

Learn about this deck that “trims cards that are un-trimmable”, “plays one copy of a whole bunch of cards you would never Tutor for”, and runs “all kinds of colors of dual lands splashing for colors that aren’t in his deck”.

You’ll also learn the key to sideboarding against mono-red with Adrian’s build, and why it might be favored against Jeskai Tokens.

Former Player of the Year Shota Yasooka returned to Top 8 glory with a Dimir Control deck of his own.

Check out this coming out party for Icefall Regent and learn about a non-intuitive interaction you might not have known when playing Silumgar, the Drifting Death.

Andrew Ohlschwager splashed white mana for Dragonlord Ojutai in his third look at Polluted Delta in the Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir Top 8. Why might Andrew have played one copy of Sign in Blood instead of blue card drawing spells? Patrick and Michael engage in some lively speculation.

Finally, our intrepid Top Level Podcast duo examine Bryan Raymer’s Mono-Blue Dragons deck from States. Bryan made Top 8 running main deck Encase in Ice! Find out why a straight blue deck might be under-powered, but how this deck is already inspiring our heroes to brew Brew BREW

And speaking of brewing…

We might just end on a high note!

Dragon Tempest
Do these cards represent a possible future combo deck?

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Living the Monastery Siege

Patrick is still in Belgium, gearing up to play in this weekend’s upcoming Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. He describes the experience as a kind of Monastery Siege.

Monastery SIege
Monastery Siege doesn’t really have much to do with this episode of Top Level Podcast.

Instead, our intrepid hosts Patrick Chapin and Michael J Flores discuss Patrick’s current playtest situation with his team The Pantheon, and twenty-odd years of high level tournament preparation skills, techniques, tactics, and technology generally. Including…

Which pros love to Stoke the Flames?
How to attack different formats, old and new
What are the good cards?
How are [other] people going to build decks based on the availability of good (new) cards?
Single v. multi-format events
Efficiently using limited playtest time
The Pantheon’s attitude towards sideboarding and playtesting with sideboards
The story of Mike Clair and seven Goblins decks
Assembling a gauntlet for established formats
Mike’s formula for extremes in metagaming
“We just play the best cards? Is that really a thing?”
Ben Rubin: master of taking from his environment
Why if two decks have a similar end game, the faster deck is favored
The concept of “bigger” v. “bigger end game”
Worlds 2005 and why Mori’s deck is one of Patrick’s all-time favorites for teaching deck building
Exploiting weaknesses in the metagame
Preparing for “middle ground” new formats that do not include a rotation
How card draw scales
Thought experiments around card draw versus expensive cards
How to expand your range as a player
Why every list Pantheon members post is expected to have a sideboard

… And more!

All in “Living the Monastery Siege”

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